我院邹晓龙老师与其指导博士生 Mbajon Vanessa在Scopus检索期刊《Journal of African Union Studies上》发表题为“THE ECONOMIC COOPERATION BETWEEN CAMEROON AND CHINA: HUB ON INFRASTRUCTURE AND INVESTMENT PROJECTS 2007-2018”研究论文。该文通过对中喀经济合作相关文献的详实梳理及喀国关键利益攸关方(key stakeholders)一手采访信息的深入分析，以基建投资合作项目为例，客观地评价了中国在喀投资现状、机遇与挑战。打破了国外学界与政界，部分所谓中国在非洲的“债务外交”说或“新殖民主义”说。具体内容转载如下：
THE ECONOMIC COOPERATION BETWEEN CAMEROON AND CHINA: HUB ON INFRASTRUCTURE AND INVESTMENT PROJECTS 2007-2018
The Cameroon-China relationship is perceived as developing strong reliance on China to provide economic means for infrastructure development in bilateral cooperation. Divided views have been circulating in both academic and political sphere regarding China’s genuine intention and its presence in African countries. This paper investigates how the economic cooperation with China affectsthe socio-economic situation of Cameroon from a domestic point of view. Interviews of key stakeholders were conducted. A survey was also undertaken regarding the general perception of Chinese infrastructural projects among Cameroonians. Our findings indicate that Chinese companies are presenting good records on the realization of infrastructural projects in Cameroon. However, there are some limitations that need to be addressed in order to improve the efficiency of projects and lead to a mutual and sustainable China-Cameroon cooperation for years to come.
Keys words: Development, Economic Cooperation, infrastructural projects, Investments
Cameroon and China established diplomatic ties on 26th of March, 1971 in the wake of putting an end to its relation with Taiwan (Khan and Baye, 2008). Since the establishment of diplomatic ties, these two nations embraced official economic and cultural collaboration. China being a country that experienced fast economic growth after the 1980s, presented a new, reliable, sustainable, and efficient alternative for underdeveloped countries like Cameroon (Ali Zafar, 2007). The turning point in the Cameroon-China relations was the first Forum on China–Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) held in Beijing in 2000. Since then, bilateral trade and economic cooperation projects have rapidly increased and China’s presence in Cameroon has substantially enlarged and diversified (Cabestan 2015).
Cameroon-China relations are similar to the rest of relations that China embraces with other African nations. As per NANJE ULE (2013), three main reasons could clarify China's presence in Africa: (1) access to natural resources, such as oil and gas;(2) extending Chinese export market and fortifying China's diplomatic support for various organizations;(3)developing its economic growth and political influence. In spite of the great difference in economic structure, Cameroon has a great deal to offer China as far as natural resources and market for manufactured products are concerned (Khan, and Baye, 2008). While Cameroon is providing natural resources, China is assisting with attractive aids and loans for infrastructural projects development in Cameroon.
In the early stage of the cooperation, numerous visible and emblematic infrastructures were launched in Cameroon, among them are; the construction of the Presidential Palace (Unity Palace) inaugurated in 1977, National Congress Hall (Palais des Congrès) in Yaoundé in 1985, the building of an enormous hydroelectric project, and the Lagdo dam in the Northern Region of Cameroon in 1982 financed with a $75 million Chinese loan. All of these, in the Cameroonian perspective, have improved the domestic social welfare level and economic development.
Despite the praises, China’s efforts and endeavours in Cameroon also encounter limitations or challenges. Therefore, this paper aims to investigate the benefits and risks of Chinese investments in the infrastructure construction in Cameroon? What are the challenges faced by the economic cooperation? And what would be the potential solutions or recommendations? To answer these questions, we build our analysis based on reviewing relevant literature and seek further insights from key stakeholder interview and surveys. Derived information is used to provide practice policy recommendations.
The reminder of the paper is arranged as follows: in the second section, a review of relevant literature is conducted that is followed with description of theoretical framework applied to analyse Cameroon-China economic relationship; next, methodology for interview and survey is illustrated; and afterwards, the analysis of China-Cameroon economic cooperation with hub on infrastructures and investment are conducted, where pros and cons are detailed; finally, we offer our recommendations based on the analysis.
China's presence in Africa is growing, and its growing commitment to economic development through “south-south” cooperation is bringing far-reaching changes to the daily lives of African people, but also huge impacts both in terms of environmental rather than economic (over-indebtedness). This review of the literature will focus on the area of trade, foreign direct investment and official development assistance. The literature on economic cooperation between China and Africa is very varied, but with particular reference to Cameroon, very little has been said.
He Shi (2010, p 213) who have analyzed China's involvement in African development, stress that “the positive impact of China's presence on African development will be limited in the long run because of a huge conflict of interest between China and Africa”. The authors note that the strengthening of China's presence in Africa has been fundamentally motivated by access to African natural resources. In his book entitled Africa's Silk Road, Broadman (2007) notes the considerable evolution of trade flows between Africa and China and India. Contradictorily to He Shi, Broadman (2007) argues that this trade explosion offers sub-Saharan Africa a potential for development. On the other hand, Broadman notes that the trade links between the two continents present a major imbalance and comes to the conclusion that, on both sides of this tantalizing economic equation, it is necessary to try to remedy the irregularities and the parameters which hinder the continued expansion of this link, through the implementation of the reforms. This is not only the primary interest of Africa in terms of its economic development, but also the economic prosperity of China.
There has been a lot of interest in the abundance of investment flows between China and Africa, but the amounts are never known and vary widely according to the authors (Broadman, 2007; Zafar, 2007; Besada et al., 2008; Tsafack, 2014). These sources estimated Chinese investments at $ 392 million in 2005, nearly $ 900 million in 2006 and $ 5.4 billion in 2008. According to Tsafack (2014), China's Foreign Direct Investments amounted to US $ 9.3 billion in 2009. A large number of authors focus on opportunities to develop the exponential growth of Chinese investments in Africa, particularly Foster et al. , (2009) who states that “ the advent of China and other emerging players as major investors is an encouraging development for Africa given the scale of its infrastructure deficit. The main challenge for African governments is to make the best use of all external sources of infrastructure finance, including emerging sources of investment, to promote growth and reduce poverty on the continent”.
The Chinese presence in Africa has raised many criticisms (Reisen, 2007; Woods, 2008; Walker, 2010) as concerns the modalities and consequences of its official development assistance. According to Woods (2008), Chinese aid undermines environmental and social standards, as well as the principles of good governance established by multilateral institutions. Reisen (2007) argues that China's financial processes promote corruption, undermine democracy and weaken debt tolerance. Walker et Cook (2010) denounce China's “unconditional” policy, which counteracts the pressure exerted by the international community for democracy (human rights and freedoms), the preservation of environmental (pollution) and social norms, the preservation of ecosystem (excessive cutting of tree species), and the preservation of fauna and flora maritime (industrial fishing abusive disappearing some rare species).
On the question of cooperation between China and Cameroon in particular, not much scientific works have been done. Khan and Baye (2008) wrote a report paper on the economic relations between China and Cameroon. This current study examined the nature of the economic relations between China and Cameroon particularly in exchange, investment and aid flows. Cabestan (2015) on his part displayed the particularity of China-Cameroon cooperation since the establishment of diplomatic ties in 1971. He exhibited that after the Chinese President's visit in 2007, China's presence increased in Cameroon through investments and different projects. The author also establishes the limits of the Sino-Cameroon partnership as well as some aspects of the perception of this partnership by non-governmental Organizations. The World Wild Fund for Nature (WWF)- Cameroon Country Program office carried out a research in 2014 titled: " Chinese investments in Cameroon: Examining the trends, challenges, and perspectives on the environment and communities ". The study was done by Martin Tsounkeu and Durrell N. Halleson aimed at defining an approach that exhorts Cameroon government, Chinese companies, and local communities. The study predominantly centred on environmental and social aspects of projects that ought to be incorporated during its commencement and execution stages. The report drew out the refreshed rundown of current projects with Chinese investments with a review of instances of litigation and conflicts encountered.
In the course of this paper, the researcher made use of two theories which were deemed important in order to understand better the economic cooperation between Cameroon and china. These theories include modernization theory and the international dependency theory.
Economic development aims at creating wealth for a nation. Early models were initiated in the immediate years after the World War II. These first models focused on the utility of massive injections of capital to achieve rapid GDP growth rates. The two famous models are Rostow’s stages growth model and the Harrod–Domar model (Todaro and Smith 2009).
Rostow (1960) claimed that the transition from underdevelopment to development would pass through five stages: the traditional society, the preconditions for take-off, the take-off, the drive to maturity and the age of high mass consumption. The decisive stage is the take-off, through which developing countries are expected to transit from an underdeveloped to a developed state. Increasing rate of investments is considered to be necessary to induce per-capita growth. According to this scholar, economies may miss stages, or become locked in one particular stage, or even regress depending on many other complementary factors such as managerial capacities, and the availability of skilled labor for a wide range of development projects (Todaro and Smith 2009). Like Rostow’s stages growth model, the Harrod–Domar model is based on investments. They are the backbone of the economy. Therefore, every country needs capital to generate these investments. The required saving rate can then be known through a target growth rate. If domestic savings are not sufficient, foreign savings would be mobilized. This theory has been criticized on the fact that capital accumulation is not a sufficient condition for development.
After Rostow’s stages in the early 1970s, economists generally described the development process as structural-change. It deals with policies focused on the economic transformation from being composed primarily of subsistence agricultural practices to being a "more modern, more urbanized, and more industrially diverse manufacturing and service economy."This model is shaped by Lewis (1954) with its two-sector model and Chenery (1960) with the structural change and patterns of development. In these approaches, labor increasingly moves away from the agricultural sector to the industrial sector. However, with an unlimited supply of labor from the traditional sector, these transferred workers continually received only subsistence wages which can improve the productivity of the industry and thus the national economy. This approach has been weakened for its emphasis on urban development at the expense of rural development which can lead to a substantial rise in inequality between internal regions of a country.
The international dependence theory was very popular in the 1970s and early 1980s. The dependence theorists argued that underdevelopment exists because of the dominance of developed countries and multinational corporations over developing countries. This theory could be related to the theory of imperialism conceptualized by Karl Marx.The dependency models rest upon the assumption that economic and political power are heavily concentrated and centralized in the industrialized countries, an assumption shared with Marxist theories of imperialism. For the dependency theorists like RaúlPrebisch, underdevelopment is a wholly negative condition which offers no possibility of sustained and autonomous economic activity in a dependent state.In this case, one state relies heavily on another for is basic economic needs. It is characterized by a dependency relation where a dominant state is a defining factor for the economy of the dependent state. Many scholars had shown this relation as the exploitation by the powerful states over the weaker one. Amin (1997) and Traoré (1999) made substantial contributions in that sense. They argued that relation between powerful state and weaker one is always in the favor of the powerful. The unequal exchange, in terms of trade against poor countries, made free trade a convenient vehicle of “exploitation” for the developed countries.
In this paper the researcher analysed the economic cooperation between china and Cameroon on two aspects which are infrastructure and investments. The objective was to throw an insight of this cooperation and bring out the challenges which both parties face in the smooth running of their relation. In the course of data collection, the researcher made use of qualitative and quantitative data collected from primary and secondary sources.
In order to obtain authentic information, the researchers relied on the primary mode of data collection to generate new data to update existing data on China-Cameroon economic relations. The primary data was gotten from interviews and questionnaire surveys conducted in March 2018 and conducted some in-depth interviews, using prepared semi structured but flexible question guides with workers of ministries involved in the implementation of China-Cameroon cooperation (Ministry of Finance, Ministry of external Relations, Ministry of economy, planning and regional development, Ministry of Small and medium size enterprises, social economy and handicraft), the General director of small and medium sized promotion agency, Director of the subcontracting and partnership ,General Manager of the Real Estate Company of Cameroon and some Non-governmental organizations, regarding China’s Economic cooperation with Cameroon. These interviews were conducted in Yaoundé since it is the political capital of Cameroon and also due to the fact that all government institutions are in Yaoundé. Information obtained from these interviews was important because it enabled the paper to get more substance especially when analysing China-Cameroon cooperation.
A Questionnaire surveys was another method used to collect information as concerns China’s presence in Cameroon and their foreign aid investments. The questionnaires were distributed to every individual who wished to fill them , who were all Cameroonians. The survey also took place in Yaoundé city. A sample of about 100 questionnaires were returned and analysed. 75% of the survey appreciated positively China’s cooperation with Cameroon as regarding infrastructural improvements even though raising some limitations, the remaining 25% had mixed feelings. They acknowledged the realisation of big projects in Cameroon on infrastructural development, commercial exchanges between China and Cameroon. From the surveys, we could denote some disadvantaged expressed by the population as concerns this economic cooperation.
In the course of our data collection proceedings, secondary data were used. Related literatures on the topic were reviewed in order to acquire an understanding of the genesis of China-Cameroon relations: that is their political and economic (trade, investments) relations. We made use of books, articles, reviews, government releases, newspaper publications… in collecting secondary source data.
Impact analysis of China's infrastructure and investment projects in Cameroon
China is playing a great role in infrastructural and investment projects in Cameroon. China financed the construction of the phase I of Yaounde-Douala highway since 2014 through a loan of 241 billion FCFA (US$438 million) (information gotten from Mr Yameni Evariste, Director of subcontracting and partnership exchange, March 2018). Chinese first highway engineering company Limited (CFHECL) is the company responsible for the implementation of the project. He stated that the project intends to connect the economic capital of Cameroon Douala to the political capital Yaoundé in a modern highway. The first part of 80 kilometre length, was intended to be finished in October 2018 but due to some interruptions likeworkers' strikes, the work has been delayed. The road been completed at 74% is said to be delivered by 2020.Notwithstanding this road, Exim Bank is projected to finance the construction of lodging units in Cameroon. Information gotten from Mr Gabriel Bengono, General Manager of the Real Estate Company of Cameroon, enlightened us that a Memorandum of Understanding concerning the construction of 1,500 social housing units in Cameroon was signed on April 18, 2008 in Yaoundé between the Government of the Republic of Cameroon and the National Society of China for Economic and Technical Cooperation of SHENYANG.
In an interview in March 2018 with Ms Augusta Njdock Sub-director in charge of projects (Division of budgetary control) from the Ministry of Finance in Yaoundé, we had the information that the Exim Bank financed the construction of the Hydro-electric power station at Mekin through a loan of 337 million RMB (22 billion FCFA). The newly constructed dam opened on December 2015 for the production of the first 5 megawatts. The Ministry of Water and Energy announced the final delivery of the Mékin dam on January 15, 2020.The same source made mention of another Chinese loan of 243 billion FCFA (US$438.1 million) which financed the construction of the Memve'ele hydro-electric dam. Sinohydro Corporation Limited was chosen for the realization of the project. As indicated by the Chinese Ambassador in Cameroon, Memve'ele dam was finished at about 70% in mid-2016 (Cameroon-Tribune, 2016) and the opening was scheduled for June 2017 but it was been postponed justified by the delay in the construction of a 30 km transport line, which separates the site of the dam from the city of Yaoundé. In an interview with Tamba Isaac, Director General of Economy from the Ministry of Economy, planning and regional development, he made mention that Chinese companies have taken the lead in the infrastructural projects as part of vision 2035. These incorporate the Kribi Deep Sea and Industrial Port Complex, the Memve'le, Mekin and LomPangar dam projects. They have additionally taken lead in the construction of some of the country's modern sport infrastructures like the Yaoundé multisport complex, Limbe and Bafoussam football stadiums. In the modernization of road infrastructures, China is building main highways of Cameroon these include: Yaounde-Douala double carriage highway, Lolabe-Kribi-Edea highway, Yaoundé-Nsimalen freeway, and the two trans-African highways: Ngaoundéré-Kousseri (border with Chad); Kumba-Mamfe (Border with Nigeria). These mega projects in Cameroon are being implemented by Chinese companies through Exim Bank China.
As mentioned by Badga Jean marie Louis, General Director of small and medium sized promotion agency, some Chinese projects are built for the social welfare of the populace, for example, sports infrastructures. China and Cameroon authorities set up a program to build a modern stadium of around 20,000 seats and a multi-sport complex of around 2,000 seats just as an annex stadium in every of the ten Regional urban communities of Cameroon. China Machinery Engineering Corporation (CMEC) has constructed two football stadiums in the Cities of Limbé (South-West Region) and Bafoussam (West Region) in 2016. The loan is amounting to US$44.2 million (Lukong Pius Nyuylime, 2017). China also financed and constructed a 200-bed Gynaecological-Obstetrical and Paediatric Hospital in Yaoundé in 2003. China assembled and equipped another 303-bed Gynecological clinic in Douala in 2014 (ManyanyeIkome, 2015). Since the early 2000s, China has increased its assistance to the construction of hospitals. Apart from the already mentioned construction of hospitals in Yaoundé and Douala, Beijing also restored and modernized the Buéa hospital in the English-speaking southwest region amounting to 3 billion CFA or $6 million (Lukong Pius Nyuylime, 2017). Chinese assistance in the health sector has increased the quantity and quality of healthcare services in the country. These sanitary structures have led to a reduction of the unemployment rate through the creation job opportunities ranging from doctors and nurses to ordinary surface technicians.
Following the questionnaire survey that was conducted in Yaoundé, about 60% of respondents agreed that cooperation between China and Cameroon is mutually beneficial and that Chinese investments are as genuinely contributing to the development of Cameroon contrasted with those of its traditional partners like France. Likewise, 70% of responses demonstrate that Chinese investments in Cameroon are acceptable. They recognized that the general fulfillment is great as far as quality of service, technology and the financial contribution to Cameroon’s economy is concerned. Simultaneously, 37.2% of respondents see the increase of technology transfer and the engagement with local entrepreneurs as the principle condition of sustainability of Chinese investments in Cameroon.
Chinese investments clearly have immediate and circuitous (indirect) socio-economic impacts on Cameroon national economy. This point was been raised by Ms Elobo Née AmbassaLisette, head of the studies, projects and perspective division of the Ministry of small and medium size enterprises, social economy and handicraft. All these projects are for a considerable contribution to the improvement of living conditions as far as the jobs creation is concerned. At a glimpse one can say it provides employment to the youths as Chinese companies work on various projects, they recruit manpower in sectors like mining, construction industry among other, improving technology transfer to those Cameroonian youths. This contribution will help increase household wages and alleviate poverty in thousand families. As indicated by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Report of 2014, LomPangar dam construction project was relied upon to employ 800 direct Cameroonians same as for projects of a similar kind like Memve'le, Mekin dam projects. Sinochem's rubber plantation in Cameroon is having 5000 employees. That is clearly bringing an improvement in the families' livelihoods in those zones (Tsounkeu, 2014). The Nanga-Eboko rice cultivation project is employing more than 10,000 Cameroonians in part time jobs. Many rice varieties were successfully tested. The project is expected to be stretched out in other regions.
In an indirect attempt, Chinese investments and infrastructure projects are reliably adding to the industrialization of Cameroon. As said by Mr Tchoffo Jean from the Ministry of economy, planning and regional development, “this impact is the most awaited by the country for its structural economic transformation as indicated by the Vision 2035”. For example, Kribi Deep Sea and Industrial Port is constructed to turn into the biggest Port in Cameroon which can receive the world's largest ships. The project is viewed as the foundation of the industrialization of Cameroon. It will improve the transformation of natural resources and trades with various nations explicitly from the Sub-Region. In this way, Kribi Deep Sea Port will be the centre of Central African States. The LomPangar dam project is planned to bring extra 170 megawatts by improving the generating capacity of the downstream dams on the Sanaga River. This enhancement of vitality would improve energy production and stability for the use of Cameroon industries. All these major projects have the same ultimate goal channelled towards the modernization of Cameroon infrastructures in order to industrialize the country and increase economic growth. About 70% of the survey responses are satisfactory to the general Chinese investments in Cameroon. Mr Tchoffo Jean, mentions that investing in infrastructure isn't just a matter of efficient allocation of resources; yet in addition, a matter of political willingness to place poor and disadvantaged people at the centre of the strategies.
Challenges towards Chinese projects
To some extent numerous issues are restricting the smooth execution of these investment projects. In the interviews undertaken in March 2018 with Tchoffo Jean and Tamba Isaac from the Ministry of economy, planning and regional development; Yameni Evariste, Director of the subcontracting and partnership exchange; Badga Jean Marie Louis General director of small and medium sized promotion agency; and Rouly Mbila from the Ministry of small and medium size enterprises, social economy and handicraft , some keys points were raised as the main limitations and problems faced in the Chinese investment projects in Cameroon.
· Interaction and engagement with local community
Chinese companies are known to be distant to the public and local community just as the Chinese people living in Cameroon. Some authors like NanjeUle (2013), Cabestana (2015) qualify Chinese construction sites as "areas of extraterritoriality". The extraterritoriality alludes to a non-right zone where a law other than that of the State is applicable. This feeling is perceptible due the difficult access to the project sites for individuals and even for authorities. That can prompt misperceptions from the local community. Also, there are communication barriers with the local community on the grounds that the vast majority of the Chinese workers have little mastery of Cameroon two official languages (French and English). On the other hand, Mandarin is exceptionally difficult to Cameroonians because of its particularity. In this way, the interaction with local workers and residents become restricted. In the survey, about 36.8% of the respondents see difficulties in communication and interactions with the local community as the principal issue that Chinese companies experience in Cameroon.
Chinese workers are not familiar with local cultures and traditions. Cameroon is a diverse nation as far as culture and ethnic gatherings. There are around 250 diverse ethnic groups living together. There are around seven major cultural areas in Cameroon. Each cultural zone is specific with its traditions and habits. The absence of communication between Chinese workers and local community lead to misperception and misunderstanding. The survey shows that about 28.6% of respondents considered this to be as the second challenge that influences Chinese investment projects in Cameroon.
· Compliance with social and environmental rules in Cameroon
Sustainable development “involves maximizing the net benefits of economic development, subject to maintaining the services and quality of natural resources over time” (Pearce and Turner, 1990). Its worry is tied in with adjusting the targets of economic growth and attending to environmental considerations. Each investment project in Cameroon is subjected to an Environmental Impact and Social Assessment (ESIA) before it starts. The rules are set up so as to implement the project with a limited impact on communities and environment. The Cameroonian Government thought about the changes attached to the infrastructural projects may have negative impacts on the environment and local communities, if left unchecked. Along these lines, the Environmental and Social Capacity Building Project for the Energy Sector (PRECESSE) was set up in February 2009 supervised by Ministries in charge of Environment and Social Affairs so as to guarantee the respect of social and environmental aspects in projects.
China, in its part, has issued environmental protection rules for Chinese companies to follow when investing abroad (Report on the Sustainable Development of Chinese Enterprises Overseas, Ministry of Commerce of China and UNDP-China, 2015). They are called upon to give more consideration to pollution and its impact on local communities. On the field, Chinese companies that are complied with the legal environmental exigencies for all the public financed projects. But the real challenge remains a full compliance by Chinese companies of the various instruments, example includes, the Social and Development Plan (PASEM), the ESIA, the Environmental and Social Management Plan (ESMP) and the Compensation and Resettlement Plan (CRP).
In Cameroon a large number of the investment projects implemented by Chinese companies are situated in sensitive ecological areas. This is a significant concern for nature protection and environmental management. At this point compliance is not necessarily put at the centre by these companies whose main objective is the outcome realization of projects. These ecological sensitive zones are: Campo Ma'an National Park on account of Kribi Deep Sea Port as well as iron ore exploration, Deng Deng forest reserve for the LomPangar dam construction project, BoumbaBek National Park for the Memve'le and Mekin dam construction project. Several Chinese companies, particularly in the oil and timber industries, have been singled out for the damage they cause to the environment. Although not only Chinese but also other Asians and some Africans are implicated, illegal logging, animal poaching and ivory smuggling are the most common issues raised both by Cameroon officials, discreetly, and NGOs and social activists, more vocally. Besides, foreign mining companies are been blamed for ignoring applicable laws, especially by destroying the environment and operating illegal mining fields.
· Poor working conditions and weak local employee integration
Chinese companies are blamed for employing Chinese workforce in Cameroon instead of recruiting locals. This allegation is because of the huge rate of unemployment and underemployment in Cameroon. The standard bound to local workforce is about 60% of the total employees however this share is rarely respected by Chinese organizations. The poor working conditions are really visible. The local workforce does not find Chinese conditions of employment appealing enough to compel them relinquish their traditional fishing or agricultural activities. Among these poor conditions, there are regularly low wages contrasts with other foreign companies. A few categories of workers are working without contracts. That is the situation for subcontractors (tacherons) who are generally paid substantially less than the Chinese workers, and so forth.
So as to conquer the encountered challenges in the economic cooperation between Cameroon and China and to improve the proficiency of Chinese investments in Cameroon, a few points should be tended to. They result from the survey analysis that has been undertaken for this study and presented as recommendations. These suggestions include: the enhancement of communication with local community, the improvement of social and environmental responsibility, and the increase in technology transfer and engagement with local entrepreneurs.
The first suggestion is the enhancement of communication with local community. In that sense, communication is the principal focus. Ms Kompa Rosalie who is the President of the NGO Women Organization for Health, Food Security, and Development (OFSAD) met in March 2018 mentioned that Chinese companies need to set up a communication plan with the local community to deal with some delicate issues like involuntary displacements, resettlement and compensation discussions. A public relation unit can be of great help in starting a dialogue platform with the community. Through communication, Chinese companies would better identify community needs. The employment of local workforce should increase. A few endeavours are being made in the recruitment of local workers by the government and some Chinese companies. Employment protocols should be signed by the National Employment Fund (NEF) and Chinese companies to provide for local workers. These initiatives should be reinforced and encouraged in every single Chinese investment related projects in Cameroon. Alongside the recruitment of local workers, Chinese companies need to improve working conditions by abiding to the national labour benchmarks and related agreements. Documents like job contracts should be written in one official language of Cameroon to facilitate a better understanding by local workers.
The second suggestion is that Social and Environmental responsibility should be paid attention to. A complying monitoring system should be set up for the Environmental Management Plans during the implementation phase of projects. The Ministry in charge of Environment ought to be associated with the Chinese investment related projects initiatives alongside with the sectorial ministries. Cameroon as a definitive proprietor of the infrastructures provided through China's financial and technical assistance should assume full responsibility of the related impact management derived from Chinese investment projects. This commitment ought to go beyond environmental responsibility but social and technical considerations. Emphasis ought to be made on the efficiency of these projects to permit the meeting of the expected outcomes. Chinese businessmen in handling their activities should pay attention to the principles of accessibility, equity, transparency, compatibility and participation. All these legal major principles are prescribed by the environmental legislation in force in Cameroon. Along these lines, the technical maintenance and the production management ought to be checked regularly. Chinese companies need to engage more on environmental responsibility, for example, their compliance with the norms and regulations ought to be in place. Yet additionally, initiate and conduct a few campaigns in favour of environmental protection, particularly for logging companies.
As a third suggestion, there should be an increase in technology transfer and commitment with local entrepreneurs. To ensure the sustainability of Sino-Cameroon cooperation in the field of infrastructure and investment projects, contracting companies need to improve technology transfer process. Cameroon government may demand that alongside these projects some particular training ought to be conceded to Cameroonian engineers and entrepreneurs. This provision ought to be bargained during the project bidding process. Joint adventure initiatives should be encouraged as a decent choice for technology transfer so as to protect Cameroon’s strategic sector. These projects would both improve technology and managerial abilities to Cameroon entrepreneurs.
As fourth suggestion, there should be commitment with local entrepreneurs/stakeholders. They will avoid excessive complaints on the part of local stakeholders and better still reduce conflicts from both parties. A mechanism for joint management of conflicts and complaints by local stakeholders should be institutionalized. It would revolve around dialogue platforms, bringing together on regular basis representatives of local communities, companies, local traditional and administrative authorities to deliberate on certain complaints related to investments. An internal management mechanism could be established in each of the companies to regulate such complaints.
Finally,, the Cameroonian government should promote good governance. The promotion of good governance will act as an important factor in the reduction of corruption which is a dangerous plaque that affects Cameroon. Corruption is the single biggest obstacle of the efficient implementation of aid projects. The government must build strong public institutions to limit the influence of corrupt government officials.
Historically, China is not a newcomer to Africa. Although, its relationship with African countries and Cameroon in particular seems to be symbolic. There are political, diplomatic and economic relations between China and the countries of Sub-Saharan Africa for several decades. In the 1980s, Sino-African economic relations were limited to technical assistance based on the construction of infrastructure (stadiums, convention centres, bridges, railways), all in exchange for the principle of recognition of China.
We can say that China is neither a threat nor an opportunity for Africa, or it is both a threat and an opportunity. It is a partner like all the other traditional partners of Africa, which knew how to design and adapt the management mechanisms of its economic cooperation policy according to the realities of each African country. As we will continue to affirm, China did not come to Africa because of its generosity, but to do business (trade) and exploit raw materials. China seeks to gain the status of the world's leading power to compete with the United States and Africa serves as a springboard to achieve the goals it has set, because it is foreseen that the power which will be able to control Africa and its wealth (natural resources), will control the whole world.
Cameroon, like other African countries, benefits from Chinese public aid linked to development. This important investment is essentially in the infrastructure sector, whereas it should be diversified. It is therefore necessary to monitor and evaluate this support to better assess its impact on expected results, such as poverty reduction and increased growth. If possible, direct it to other areas of higher priority than the infrastructure.
In the end, Cameroon should not be deceived by this “Chinese friendship”. China is not a friend, but a consistent partner, to whom we should not make any concessions. The Cameroonian authorities should think about the legacy which they will leave for future generation; that cannot be a perpetual debt, but a thriving economy and a prosperous future.
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